My brother does as he’s told, and my mom takes his hands in hers. “Before I say anything, tell me this isn’t just something you did to help Kit out.”
Kale silently shakes his head.
“And the reason you’ve been checking your phone for days . . . ”
“Leti,” Kale answers, and I hold my breath as I wait to see what everyone does.
A soft smile curls my mom’s lips. “But before Leti, you were still . . . ”
“Still gay,” Kale confirms, and my mom’s eyes drift to mine.
“And you knew?”
I swallow thickly. “Since sixth grade.”
She lets that sink in, but it’s Mason who barks out a response, his black eyes pinned on my twin. “Since sixth grade? You’ve been keeping this from us for . . . for . . . How many fucking years is that?”
“Ten,” Ryan answers, disappointment quieting his voice. “Ten years. Kale . . . why? Why would you . . . ” He chokes up and rubs his eyes, and Kale wipes the heel of his palm under his own thick lashes. “I don’t understand,” Ryan finishes.
My dad reaches over and pats Ryan’s knee, and Kale stares down at his feet. “I’m sorry.”
“What the hell are you apologizing for?” Mason snaps, and Kale just shakes his head at his socks.
In a quiet, broken voice, he says, “I don’t know.”
“It better be for waiting so long to tell us, and not for anything else,” Mason warns, and a tiny gasp leaves my mouth. He is furious—furious with Kale for not telling us and for hiding who he is. For nothing else.
Kale looks up again, his eyes trained on our brother until the tears start to slip down his cheeks. When I lift my fingers to my own, I realize they’re just as wet.
Mason curses and stands up, yanking Kale off the couch and breaking his back in a hug. “I fucking love you, Kale. Stop being a baby.”
Kale laughs through quiet tears, and my dad is the next to stand. He pulls Kale in for another bone-crushing hug, and one by one, my family accepts him. They forget about me until a sob bubbles out of my chest and all eyes turn my way.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, Kit,” Mason says. “Get over here.”
It’s corny. It’s the corniest family hug in the history of family hugs everywhere. But it heals some broken part inside Kale, or at least I hope it does. Ten years of fearing this moment, and the only thing anyone is upset about is the fact that he spent ten years fearing this moment.
“So . . . Leti, huh?” my dad asks, and Kale blushes as red as Bryce’s sneakers.
“I knew there was something going on with you two,” Bryce chimes in, but Mason laughs and elbows him in the arm.
I’m smiling when my mom’s hand lands on my shoulder. “Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you,” she warns.
My heart sinks, and the quietness between us spreads throughout the room. Kale’s moment is up, and now it’s mine. And mine isn’t going to be nearly as Hallmark, because I’m pretty sure my family’s introduction to it involved me shouting the word fuck—a lot.
“Can we talk about it tomorrow?” I ask, taking a step backward, toward the doorway of the room.
“Sit down,” my dad orders, and I do as I’m told. “Now, the rest of you, out.”
My brothers begin to protest, but when his gaze is just as hard and stony as theirs, they groan and follow his orders. Even Kale has to leave, closing the door behind him and leaving only my mom and my dad sitting on the couch cushion next to me.
I swallow thickly.
“I’m not going to yell at you about what happened at dinner,” my dad says, and my brain takes a minute to process and then reprocess his words.
He shakes his head. My mom is holding his hands on her lap, in silent support of everything he’s saying. “Nope. I’m going to keep you in here for five minutes so your brothers think we handled it, and then I’m going to let you go.”
My mom stares at him over her shoulder, a soft smile touching her face. Then she turns back toward me and says, “Do you want to talk to us about anything though? Or just me . . . I can kick your dad out.”
I can’t help laughing a little despite the vise-grip squeezing my heart. “I don’t think so.”
“You sure, honey?”
I take a deep breath and nod. “I’m sure.”
“Okay. Well, then I’m just going to tell you this one thing, and then you can go.” I wait, and she pats my knee. “That Shawn boy is a fucking tool if he doesn’t see how special you are.”
I gape at my mom and the curse word she just blatantly said, and she nods to emphasize her point, absolutely serious.
“A motherfucking tool.”
And oh God, I can’t help it—I start laughing. Hard. And both she and my dad smile at the sound.
“Any boy who wants to keep you a secret isn’t one worth getting angry over,” she adds. “Kick his ass to the curb. But I will tell you this . . . ” She squeezes my knee before letting go. “I saw the way he looked at you tonight, and when you stormed away from the table, he didn’t seem to want to keep you a secret then. He was out of his chair even before your brothers, and do you know what he did? He chased after you. He didn’t hesitate.”
I chew on the inside of my cheek, the lightness gone from my broken heart. It’s heavy again—jagged, confused, bleeding.